Yesterday, Scientology leader David Miscavige made the scene in San Diego to open Scientology’s newest “Ideal Org.” We asked Rod Keller, who keeps an eye on the program, to update us on where it stands today.
The number of people joining Scientology may have declined, but the real estate owned by Scientology is still being upgraded. David Miscavige plans to grow that property portfolio until every normal org has been renovated as or replaced by an Ideal Org version. He also wants an Ideal Advanced Org on every continent, and each of those is supposed to have its own associated Ideal Org, which is sometimes called a Continental Ideal Org. [UPDATE: Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder helps us get this right: “The ‘continental’ Ideal Org is associated with the CLO (the Continental Liaison Office), not the Advanced Org. In Sydney, London, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Joburg and Milano that is one and the same.”]
Mike Rinder explained the origin of the Ideal Org program at his blog. In 2002, Miscavige found for various reasons that he needed to replace orgs in three cities — Buffalo, Tampa, and Johannesburg. He decided that the new facilities should be larger, more elaborate, and updated with the latest A/V equipment. Thus was born his obsession with replacing all of the rest of the world’s regular orgs with Ideal ones, and putting intense pressure on local members to raise the money for it.
In order to qualify as “Ideal,” an org needs to have 50,000 square feet of space. So in some cases, orgs that are large enough can stay put and only need to pay for renovation — such was the case in New York City, for example. But most places have to find a new building, as in London, Dallas, Rome, and many other places. In several cities, decaying landmark buildings were purchased, but then there wasn’t enough local money to pay for the extensive rehabbing necessary to transform them. So they sit rotting, unrenovated, in places like Chicago, Manchester, and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
That may be changing. We’re seeing in some places that the church is giving up on landmarks that take too much money and time to fix, and are going with less sexy facilities. Boston is a good example. After wasting years on a building they couldn’t afford to renovate, the Alexandra Hotel…
…the church has put that property up for sale and has settled for a much less romantic setting that can be made ready at a much lower price tag…
Expect this trend to continue as Scientology tries to open Ideal Orgs at the rate of about one per “continent” per year.
And with the opening of the Ideal Advanced Org in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood, expect additional Ideal Advanced Org openings in Africa, Canada, and Mexico in the near future. Scientology opened the checkbook for the Chatswood AO, and the previous practice of raising money from local Scientologists for their AO may be ending.
In Scientology, the United States is divided into two “continents” for operating purposes, Western US and Eastern US, and the Western US Ideal Advanced Org is the American Saint Hill Organization (ASHO) on L. Ron Hubbard Way in Los Angeles. The associated Ideal Org is the Los Angeles Ideal Org…
(This was the place where Caitlyn Jenner and Kate Bornstein paid a visit last year.)
Western US Ideal Orgs: Dallas, Denver, Inglewood, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Minneapolis, Mountain View, Orange County, Pasadena, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Seattle
Western US Non-ideal orgs: Albuquerque, Austin, Hawaii, Kansas City, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Santa Barbara, San Fernando Valley
The building for the Valley Ideal Org is under renovation now and will be the next opening for WUS. Salt Lake City will probably be next after that. WUS has two decaying landmarks that may be too expensive to renovate, in Kansas City and St. Louis. If the Boston policy is followed, expect them to be sold in the near future. Western US is about 70 percent converted to Ideal Orgs, the highest percentage of any continent.
For the Eastern US the Ideal Advanced Org is the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, and the continental Ideal Org is New York City.
Eastern US Ideal Orgs: Atlanta, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Harlem, Nashville, New York, Tampa, Washington DC
Eastern US Non-ideal orgs: Battle Creek, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Long Island, Miami, New Haven, Orlando, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico
The new Miami Ideal Org is under renovation now and should open next year. Expect Boston to be next after that. EUS has solved the problem in Boston, but still has decaying landmarks in Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. There has been some indication that actual work is finally getting underway in Detroit, and someone is spreading the rumor that Philadelphia will be opening on December 3. But these recent photos show the only work done on the building in Philly is the addition of Way to Happiness posters in the windows. Expect these three buildings to be sold under the new policy rather than renovated.
For the United Kingdom, the Ideal Advanced Org is L. Ron Hubbard’s former home Saint Hill Manor, and the associated Ideal Org is in London. There are no other Ideal Orgs in the UK.
UK Non-ideal orgs: Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Sunderland, Manchester.
Manchester, Plymouth, Sunderland, and Birmingham all have decaying landmark buildings that should be sold, and no Ideal Org openings can be expected here in the next year or two.
Scientology counts Canada as a separate Continent. The Ideal Advanced Org is being renovated near the small town of Mono, Ontario. The associated Ideal Org is Toronto, which is just a decaying building awaiting renovation for the moment.
Canada Ideal Orgs: Cambridge, Quebec City
Canada Non-ideal orgs: Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg
Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg have decaying landmarks that may be sold. Don’t expect Ideal Orgs to open in Canada in the next few years.
Europe’s Ideal Advanced Org is in Copenhagen, and they are currently renovating an associated Denmark Ideal Org. Expect it to open next year, and it will probably be staffed by Sea Org members.
Europe Ideal Orgs: Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Hamburg, Madrid, Malmo, Moscow, Tel Aviv
Europe Non-ideal orgs: Aarhus, Amsterdam, Angers, Athens, Barcelona, Bern, Clermont-Ferrand, Dusseldorf, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gotenborg, Hanover, Laussane, Lisbon, Lyon, Munich, Nice, Oslo, Paris, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Vienna, Zurich
There is no news out of Europe of impending Ideal Org openings, there are also no decaying landmark buildings to sell. The conspicuous lack of a Paris Ideal Org probably puts that city at the top of the list. [Mike Rinder tells us not to expect any Ideal Orgs in France, not as long as Scientology is considered a business convicted of fraud there.] Expect one per year in Europe, but not in St. Petersburg given the recent crackdowns by authorities there. Twelve Ideal Orgs in Europe is an impressive number, and they have a long way to go as there are many small orgs in this continent.
Also, Italy is considered its own “continent.” Its Ideal Orgs are Milan, Padova, and Rome. Its non-Ideal Orgs are Brescia, Cagliari, Catania, Monza, Novara, Pordenone, Turin, Verona.
Africa will get an Ideal Advanced Org in Kyalami Castle, purchased in 2008. Renovations will be expensive, but the building is less than 25 years old, and this is not a decaying landmark. Expect money from the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) to finally open this AO.
Africa Ideal Orgs: Johannesburg, Pretoria
Africa Non-ideal orgs: Bulaweyo, Cape Town, Durban, Harare, Johannesburg North, Port Elizabeth
Expect Johannesburg North to be the next opening in Africa in a year or two. Port Elizabeth has a huge decaying landmark building, which may be sold. The thought of an Ideal Org in Bulaweyo or Harare is comical given the terrible economic conditions in Zimbabwe. They are planning for it anyway, perhaps in the far future. If there is a plan for Harare, then there is a plan for every other Scientology org to go ideal…
Australia, New Zealand and Asia recently opened Chatswood as the new Ideal Advanced Org, with Sydney as the associated Ideal Org.
ANZO/Asia Ideal Orgs: Kaohsiung, Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo
ANZO/Asia Non-ideal orgs: Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth
Auckland has nearly finished renovations and could open as early as this year. Taipei may be the the next Ideal Org opening in Asia. They have a large mission and are raising money from a large network of other missions in Taiwan who want to see an Ideal Org in the capital city. There are no decaying landmarks to be sold in Australia or Asia.
In Latin America the Ideal Advanced Org will be in Mexico City, and the associated Ideal Org is also there.
Latam Ideal Orgs: Bogota, Mexico City
Latam Non-ideal orgs: Buenos Aires, Caracas, Cuauhtemoc, Guadalajara, Leon, ODD, Polanco, Puebla, Valencia
Expect an Ideal Org opening at ODD, the Organización de Desarollo y Dianética, in the next few years, which would be the second Ideal Org for Mexico City. Buenos Aires has a decaying landmark that should be sold.
Anticipating Scientology’s Ideal Org program is difficult, but developments in San Diego and Boston may indicate they are ready to put the embarrassing situation of dilapidated Scientology buildings in multiple cities behind them. Scientology’s real estate spree is proceeding and they intend to continue as long as the money holds out. Even with fewer members, the money is flowing and we can expect more Ideal Orgs every year.
The motivation behind the Ideal Org project is the subject of much debate. Why is Scientology opening new buildings if the membership isn’t growing? One theory holds that it started because Tom Cruise was embarrassed bringing a friend into an org, and Scientology leader David Miscavige wanted orgs to be a place he would be proud to bring guests. There is certainly also an aspect of public relations in it, to be able to say Scientology is expanding at a time when they are actually losing membership. There is also a monetary aspect, providing another avenue that Scientology can divert donations from the local level to higher levels to pay for space planning or other services. These are probably all true to some extent.
I think the ultimate motivation is to further Miscavige’s vision that he is perfecting Scientology, and is a worthy successor to L. Ron Hubbard. He personally edits Hubbard’s books and lectures to correct minor errors, he has re-written Scientology processing and training procedures through the Golden Age of Tech and Golden Age of Tech II initiatives, and he is even perfecting the buildings in which Scientology is delivered. He commands the orgs to build anew because he has the power to do so and it boosts his reputation within Scientology and with the outside world. He personally opens each Ideal Org, and meets with the most important opinion leaders in each city. He thinks of himself as the Pope of Scientology and that is the level of world leader he believes he has reached. Perhaps he even believes his gleaming new buildings puts him on equal footing with L. Ron Hubbard himself.
— Rod Keller
Go here to start making your plans.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield